Honoring the Totems: Shamanic Prayer
“I honor you, Grandmother Moon, for the love, wisdom and patience you give us, so that we may understand that everything goes through phases and this too, shall pass.”
Ever since humans have been able to comprehend their environment through the concept of cause and effect, a realization that we can influence the outcome of certain events has captivated our minds. This has brought much positivity into our lives. However, it has also resulted in the demonization of an otherwise useful and necessary evolutionary tool: fear.
Just as we have prescribed anthropomorphic qualities to animals as our totems, we have done the same to other energies in our environment: stones, plants, stars, the sun, the moon, thunder, the list goes on. Every object possible, every energy, has the potential to be a totem. In fact, everything is alive, it has its own life force and this is an undeniable fact in the world of the shaman. Even emotions are alive, they have their own consciousness and survive as long as we allow them.
Back to fear. Yes, fear is alive, however, he is no longer a useful tool for survival. We have transformed him into a terrifying figure of darkness and dread. This is the origin of many forms of prayer, especially those that are part of organized religions that are guided by doctrine and walk hand in hand with the social politics of a civilization.
However, a prayer that's based on fear can be present in any society and becomes commonplace as humans progress from a state of dependence on nature to a state of manipulation of nature.
We pray harder during difficult times, we beseech our symbols, idols, and deities to look upon us with favor. This is fine because if grounded in faith, the energy of any prayer has the power to bring about change. Faith and hope are light forces after all. We must just be careful that we are praying for abundance and not for lack, for the Universe will give you what you ask for.
Other forms of prayer, including shamanic prayer in its purest form, focus on gratitude and the receiving of abundance. The shamanic journey is an inner one, requiring us to travel to the time of our ancestors where we were completely dependent upon nature and honored her purely for what she chose to give us.
Honoring the Seven Directions
An essential part of shamanic prayer is to honor the seven directions. We all know what the four directions are, right? Of course. North, south, east, and west. So, what are the other three? The other three are not based on the physical plane, they are spiritual and represent the different worlds where a shaman operates: up above (the upper world), down below (the lower world), and inside (the middle world). These three will be discussed in a later article. Let’s focus on the four physical directions for now.
The Four Physical Directions
Most shamanic cultures honor the directions and it has been found that around the world, similar Animal Totems have been associated with the four physical directions. In addition, each carries a certain state of existence as well as representing a certain element found in nature.
They are as follows:
o East: home of the Eagle. This is universal across all cultures. The Eagle is the Gatekeeper of the Spirit, of Enlightenment, place of Fire.
o South: home of the hound. It varies from region to region from the jackal to the fox or the coyote, but almost universally the south is the home of the hound. The Hound is the Gatekeeper of our Emotions, place of Water, the restless wanderer.
o West: home of the Bear (in many Native American beliefs), and in other cultures the cat energy: Leopard, Tiger, or Jaguar. This totem is the Gatekeeper of the Physical, the place of the night, and your fears. This is where we are compelled to go inwards and face ourselves. The element here is Earth, the ground we stand upon.
o North: home of the Bovine, varying between the Buffalo, Bison, Cow, or Reindeer, depending on the region. This totem is the Gatekeeper of the Mind, your thoughts, the place of wind and air. The wisdom of the ancestors also resides here.
The honoring of these Animal Totems and the directions is necessary for shamanic prayer because it is the recognition of ourselves in nature and the universe, indicating the Oneness from which we all come.
A Shamanic Prayer
Prayer is a very personal thing and nobody should be told how to pray. Some people prefer to pray in groups, compounding the energy of all individuals. Others prefer to pray alone, quietly. The view of the shaman is that every action is a prayer, every statement, every moment of your existence on this earth is an opportunity to honor the Divine Energy, Great Spirit, God, or whatever we choose to call him/her/it.
This can be quite daunting, but if you think about it, it's nothing more than a calling to live your life according to your integrity, who you really are, the essence of your nature. This is something we should all strive to do, especially if we've chosen to follow a spiritual path, to go within.
But still, as humans, there is a need to interact, converse with God, to show gratitude and honor the many gifts we have received. Below is an example of a simple shamanic prayer, based loosely on Native American shamanism:
I recognize and accept the divine
connection between body and spirit,
my wisdom and sight,
my truth and integrity,
and my love.
I honor you, Grandfather Sun,
for the light and warmth you give us.
I honor you, Grandmother Moon,
for the wisdom and patience you give us.
I honor you Father Sky,
for your warm embrace,
and Mother Earth,
for the way you nurture us.
I honor the Seven Directions,
North, East, South, West,
Up above, Down below and Inside.
The Four Totems, the Eagle, the Hound,
the Bear and the Bison, I honor you.
I honor the seven people,
the Stone People, the Standing People,
the Winged People, the Finned People,
the Four-legged People and
the Two-legged people,
the Many and No-legged People.
I honor the Thunder Beings,
bringers of rain,
and the Great Star Nation,
with their Sky brothers and Sisters.
I honor you in the name of
my Angels, my Animals,
my Ancestors and my Spirit Guides,
and I thank you for this path
and the chance to grow Love.
This prayer is just an example of how you, as one who is on the spiritual path, can go within and honor the Divine Power or God. I always use it before I meditate, do some yoga, or write something. It can be performed when one engages in many activities from exercise to gardening and other hobbies. It's based upon love, faith, gratitude, and the gifts we have been given.
Below is another example:
When performing a prayer like this, it's always nice to light some White Sage incense. White sage is a very sacred plant and can be used for cleansing and clearing the air when you wish to go within and speak to Great Spirit or Totem and Ancestor energy.
It's also a good idea to put on some shamanic drumming music and place a picture or representation of your Power Animal on the floor in front of you. Always remember to take your Power Animal with you in whatever you do. I have an Amulet of the Ouroboros, a very ancient symbol of a snake devouring its tail. Using this during prayer always helps to ground me because it represents my eternal place in the unending cycle of birth, life, death and birth, creation, preservation, and destruction.
Alternatively, this prayer works just as well in a group ceremony. For more on shamanic prayer take a look at Prayers of Honoring by Pixie Lighthorse.
Shamanic prayer is a process of surrendering yourself, body, mind, and spirit, to the power of the universe. You are essentially placing your soul in the hands of the Divine Being or Universal Power. it's an act of unconditional love for yourself and all else and the intention should always be that of honoring and showing gratitude. I hope this article has given you some alternate ideas on prayer and honoring the Divine Energy.